Summertime and the Living is Easy


Sunday was the official start of summer and typically living in Portland means a sense of desperation by the time June roles around.  The rain and clouds sometimes make their way into what should be the summer and it makes a person ready for some much needed sunshine. This was one of our dilemmas when considering life in a very small space. We moved in at the end of July last year and wondered if the first few months were so enjoyable simply because we spent so much time outside. Picturing the weather changing and the use of outdoor space declining made me wonder how it would change our feelings for the house. We will be coming up on a full year soon and I am happy to report the weather never gave us cabin fever.  There is nothing like a cozy space with lots of windows that has everything you need or want.  We have actually had an unusually nice year in Portland and it has felt like summer has been brewing since February. But…I won’t say I am not excited for the gloriousness, the magic, the pure bliss of summer in Portland, OR.

FullSizeRender (8)IMG_4330I have a passion for summer, I put summer on a pedestal.  Summer represents all things fun, amazing, and carefree.  I get a thrill from seeing rhubarb in the store because to me nothing says summer is coming like rhubarb for sale.  Before the start of summer I like to make a list of things I want to do while the weather is nice, things like berry picking, backpacking trip, Brew-cycle, sunset picnics, paddle boarding, and the list goes on.  Often it is too much to accomplish in one summer but it inspires us to take advantage of any free time we do have.

Our plan has been to live in the tiny house for at least a year before purchasing a house, then use the tiny house in our future backyard to rent on Airbnb.  Adam will be done with Academy in July and we have decided that a couple months of good old-fashioned summer fun are much needed.  Last summer Adam built this house while working full time and with our current plans of buying a house to re-model, it would be nice for him to have some time between Academy and home renovations.  Plus, we love it here and can’t think of a better place to spend the summer.  We live next to a 90 acre park so it feels like we are surrounded by nature, on the other side of us we have a lively neighborhood with restaurants and bars that we love walking to on summer evenings.  

This year has gone by so fast, but it feels like we really lived it to the fullest.  Looking back at pictures from this year I realized how many new things we did or became interested in.  Adam is really into fly fishing, and I mean REALLY.  I climbed my first mountain with my dad.  I think the tiny house has a lot to do with it.  Its amazing how fast a year can go by, and when you reflect on it nothing out of the ordinary happened, it just got filled with the day-to-day busyness that all seems to blur together.  That still happens occasionally and in no way am I suggesting I have unlocked the secret to living life.  I just think we have had the opportunity to be less in our own world and more out in the world.  Without being surrounded by a larger house filled with our belongings that remind us “I really need to finish that project” or “why did I buy that” we can focus more on the moment and how we ultimately want to be spending our time.

I hope you all have a memorable summer!

Adam & Chelsea

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The garden beds Adam built
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This was in the Spring, BLOOMS out every window!
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Our resident fireman
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Our resident porch sitter

I Married a Cabinet Maker


You know when you are really busy in life and you still find time to build cabinets all by hand? Me either…but I live with a mythical creature who did just that. _IGP4794 There were a few things that didn’t get finished in the house before Adam started Academy, the biggest was the kitchen cabinets.  Until now we just had open shelves beneath the countertop, which worked fine, just didn’t look as nice as finished cabinets.  I didn’t think Adam would have the time to try his hand at custom cabinetry, but a couple of months ago he decided to start working on them.  He likes having projects to work on and it seemed to be a nice break from studying and thinking about work.  Though he has never built cabinets he did an amazing job!  He added some great features that we couldn’t have had when purchasing pre-made cabinets.

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IMG_0883 I would give the cabinet-maker 6 stars out of 5 on yelp
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They are the same color as the exterior of the house
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Countertop is birch butcher block from ikea
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The bottom drawer is designed for dog bowls, they will be recessed in and out-of-the-way when needed.
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Leaving the drawer half-open for access to the water dish will be much better than having it on the floor and constantly kicking it over!

Another update we did recently was to paint the exposed plywood walls. Originally we had white washed the plywood and really liked the look of seeing the wood grain, but after a few months it seemed like the walls looked more yellow than white. We realized that we probably should have put a stain-blocker on first to seal the wood and prevent any oils in the wood from bleeding through. We ended up putting on a coat of stain-blocker and then painting all the walls the same color (Designer White). I really liked the wood walls but this made a big difference visually, it looks more finished and brighter overall.

http://www.stikwood.com

I recently discovered Stikwood and think this will be the next addition to the back wall in the house.  If you haven’t seen this stuff check it out, I recently discovered it and wish I had known all along! It is real wood but cut super thin, it has adhesive backing so you can create accent walls, headboards, anything really!  http://www.stikwood.com

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This pullout is great for stool seating
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I think its safe to say Jesse has fully adjusted and is enjoying her small domain

What it does to you

Would you like to know what happens to somebody after living in a tiny house for  over seven months?  Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought spending over half a year in under 200 sq. ft had to either send your body into adaptation mode and you would shrink a little bit, or it would shift your perspective so much that you would see the world differently.

Adam and I have talked about some of the things we have noticed throughout our seven months here, often it comes up when we ask each other “why do we like it here so much?” Although part of that question remains to be answered we have come to a few conclusions and revelations about life in the tiny house.  Yeah things are going to get deep…

1. We like each other

We knew we liked each other and didn’t expect that to change but living here has made it clearer than ever.  If we didn’t like each other this definitely wouldn’t be going so smoothly!

2. When you follow your heart and take risks good things happen

This blog got its name because in the end the good that can come from taking a chance to achieve a goal will ALWAYS outweigh the potential risk of it failing.

3. Maybe we are laid back

We like to think of ourselves this way but who really knows?  Living here for the last 7 months has been surprisingly easy.  Yes there are inconveniences, frustrations, and all of that but we have embraced the good with the not so convenient.  I often have people tell me about how they would handle living in a tiny house “it’s not for me” “that’s cool, but I could never do that” “I like my space too much” “I would kill my spouse.”  After hearing these dramatic declarations I find myself wondering if I’m missing something, or if my breaking point is yet to come.  I have since realized maybe we have a quality that allows us to easily and happily live in a place that many couldn’t.  Both of us have always adapted to new environments easily and living in a tiny house has been no different.

4. The root of happiness 

This isn’t a new revelation of course.  My family never placed importance on having nice cars or a huge house.  While studying abroad in Ghana I learned this valuable lesson . Ghanaians are some of the most joyful people I have ever met and many of them had few material possessions.  What they did have was a close family and the basics needed to live.

The mechanic shop near our house, maybe they would accept hugs as payment?
The mechanic shop near our house, maybe they would accept hugs as payment?

5. Though stuff is nice, you feel pretty free when you aren’t surrounded by it

I will be the first to admit I am not a minimalist but I have enjoyed the feeling of having everything you need and not much else.   Adam isn’t exactly high maintenance,  the only thing I can remember him saying he wanted in the house was a cool bottle opener.  Luckily we have space elsewhere to keep our camping and outdoor gear otherwise it may be different but he is a man of few necessities.

6. Its BETTER than we imagined

The fact that Adam and I are very optimistic people combined with the fact that we dive into things quite quickly should have guaranteed this tiny house thing to either not work out or be far less enjoyable than we thought.  We are delighted that this has been one of those cases where the reality of the situation is actually better than what we had pictured.  We had decided that if we hated living in the tiny house then we would just move out, but we don’t so we’ll stay.

7. Perfect 

Now, don’t get the idea that life in the Redmond Estate is always rainbows and butterflies.  We love it here but that doesn’t mean things are always perfect.  It is harder to entertain, hard to use a foam roller inside, impossible to get a running start and slide across the floor in socks, harder to bake and cook elaborate meals, hard to slam a door for dramatic effect if Adam and I are having a fight (but not impossible).  Though there are small sacrifices we have had to make they have all been easy to do without or work around.  We may not see the world totally differently and haven’t had any shrinking happen, but we have found a better understanding of what is important to us and what we need to be happy.

If you build it

While making this slideshow I realized we purchased the 8×22′ trailer that our house sits on February 25, 2014.   July 16, 2014 was the day we pulled it from Eugene to Portland where we now live.  It is amazing what you can accomplish when you have no other option. We decided the best way to make this dream happen was to allow ourselves no other option.  It was Tiny House or the streets.

Let me back-up a bit…Portland has been our home for the last 7 years, but in 2013 Adam was hired by the Fire Department in Eugene, OR, it was an exciting opportunity coming from a smaller Department outside of Portland and he took the job.  During the first 6 months I stayed in Portland but eventually moved down too.   Though we didn’t plan it this way, the house we rented was an ideal situation for building the tiny house.  We started building it with the goal of finishing the following winter.

Adam was building on his days off and I would help when I was able.  In June he got offered a fairly unexpected position with Portland, a month before he would need to start.  It was not an easy decision, he loved the people he worked with and it meant another dreaded fire academy along with canceling our big trip to Peru we had booked in September. Portland felt like home to us and this had been his dream job for years so he couldn’t pass it up.  This meant we had 30 days to either finish this house or find a place to live.  We decided this would be the perfect year to live full time in the house, he would be busy with academy and we would save money, plus where the heck would we put a half finished house.  At first we looked at places as backup and quickly decided we were not going to consider anything else because it was distracting and didn’t get us any closer to the end goal.

I am good under pressure, I do my best work in -fact, but this was a whole new level of pressure.  Not only was the house just a wooden shell with no insulation or electricity but we had no idea where we would put it in a month when we moved it to Portland.  We would joke about the Wal-Mart parking lot or parking it down by the river but even those were looking like real options two weeks before the move. Adam was working from the second he got up until late at night, on days when I was home I would do the same, friends would help out some days.  We were making progress.  My family came down for the weekend and my uncle ended up staying the entire last week working as an unpaid saint sent down to help us not be homeless, don’t think we would have been here without him!

One week until our move date, I was in Utah for work, Adam doesn’t panic and he was panicking.  I told him “if you build it they will come” He may not have been amused by the Field of Dreams reference at the time but I truly believed I would find us the perfect spot in less than a week.  It was the least I could do while he was  working around the clock to finish while I was away for work.  Calling him with the news that I found a place was exciting, but the fact that it was  basically in our old neighborhood and on a half acre right against a 90 acre park was a proud moment.

The grounds on which the mansion sits (we could have just moved into that little playhouse I suppose)
The grounds on which the mansion sits (we could have just moved into that little playhouse I suppose)

I know many people living in tiny houses spend months downsizing, unfortunately  with the unexpected move and desperate need to finish the house we had not gotten to this step, or even began packing our 1,400 square foot house at all until the DAY BEFORE.  Moving is already a pain but this move will make all stressful moves feel like a sunny picnic in the park.  It was one of those times you look back on and don’t know how you did it.  There is the sheer terror of taking your 10,000 lb home down the freeway for the first time without knowing if it would fall apart.  There was also the fact that after two solid days of no sleep Adam would be starting his new job.   It wasn’t pretty but we did it and for that we are grateful.

It has been five months already and living here has been the easy part.  It has never felt too small, even when we bump into each other in the kitchen or hit our heads in the loft. Despite all of its flaws and extreme tiny-ness this house feels like home to us.  It surprises me everyday how much I love living here.